Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Doll's Festival on the Mito Line

EMU JR East 415-1500 series arrives at Tomobe Station on the Mito Line
 
March 3rd was Hina-Matsuri, the Doll's Festival for girls. In this season, most families with girls in Japan display a set of dolls in ancient court costumes and pray for the girls' growth and happiness. It is believed that the dolls protect people from sickness or ill-fortune.

Hina-matsuri of Makabe Town in Ibaraki Prefecture is specifically famous, as the local people hold a large- scale festival. Many private houses, shops, temples and shrines display dolls and are open to the public. Visitors can freely come up to these places and see the precious dolls. I visited this small town with my family last weekend and came upon a private house by chance. We saw fantastic dolls displayed in a traditional Japanese-style room there. According to the owner, the oldest ones were made over a century ago. The dolls have been treasured for generations.

To get to this festival town, we took the JR East Mito Line and got off at Iwase Station. It took about two hours from the downtown Tokyo area, transferring at Tomobe Station on the Joban Line. The JR East Mito Line is an East-West trending local route in the northern part of the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Our vehicle was the EMU 415-1500 series. The 415-1500 series was launched as an AC-DC dual system train in 1986. It is a 4-car train that has bolster-less bogies. The electric control system is an old-fashioned rheostatic with a field weakening mechanism, but it was still maintained in good condition.
 
Hina-matsuri decolation is seen in Makabe Town near Iwase Station on the Mito Line